|NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Biographical Works > Articles > NANDAN ACARYA|
By Vrindavan das Thakur
Nandan acarya saw the best of the Maha Bhagavats standing before him, His bodily effulgence shining like the rays of the sun. Dressed in the garb of an avadhuta, His body appeared very large, like the trunk of a great tree. He was continuously and intensely absorbed in a very grave mood and appeared very serene and calm.
He incessantly repeated the name of Krishna and thus it is understood that he is the other, one without a second, abode of Chaitanya. In other words it is he who reveals Lord Chaitanya to the inhabitants of the 3 worlds. Occasionally he would roar very loudly while experiencing ecstatic love within Himself. He appeared to be highly intoxicated like Balaram himself. His lotus face was so captivating that it stole the mind away, a beauty which defeated ten million moons. His charming smile, which plays on his lips, gives life to this otherwise dead and dying world.
The rays of light, which shine from His teeth, defeat the splendor of pearls. And his wide, reddish eyes, the color of the eastern sky in the early morning, enhance the radiance of His lotus face. His arms extend down to His knees and His chest is raised and erect. Though His lotus feet are very soft, He is a very accomplished traveler. Bestowing His mercy on everyone, He makes them completely satisfied. Simply by hearing His sweet words one becomes free from the bondage of his material activities.
Nityananda Ray has now come to Nadiya pur and so the whole world raises an uproar with loud cries of joy. Who is there, who is formidable enough, to pronounce His glories?, He who broke the sannyasa staff of Shri Gauranga. The whole universe is purified by uttering the name of Him, who delivered so many fallen fools and merchants. Thus Nandan Acarya was very delighted to have such a person in his home and so he kept Him there and served Him to the best of his ability. Whomsoever hears of the arrival of Shri Nityananda Candra in Navadvipa, will undoubtedly be able to procure the great wealth of love of God. Boli hari jai!
Shri Visvambhar could understand that Nityananda had arrived and this filled Him with unending happiness. He would make remarks alluding to this fact, but no one could penetrate into the inner meaning of His words. "O my brothers! Within two or three days a great Maha purusa will come here." On the actual day of Nityananda Prabhu's arrival, the Vaishnavas happened to all come together in the morning at Shri Gaurachandra's house, while He was engaged in worshiping Lord Vishnu. He then narrated to them, "Today I saw a very wonderful dream. A chariot, decorated with a flag on which was emblazoned the insignia of a palm tree, came and stopped before my door. I could understand that this chariot had come to give substance to this otherwise meaningless world. Seated upon that chariot, was a very powerful looking personality, carrying a great plow on His shoulder. He appeared to be restless. In His left hand, He carried a cane, to which was tied his water pot. He wore blue cloth on his head, as well as the other parts of His body. In his left ear hung a very dazzling earring. I thought that His mode and manners exactly resembled those of Shri Haladhar.
Then that wonderful personality inquired, "Is this the house of Nimai Pandit? At least ten or twenty times He asked this question. In the dress of a maha avaduta He appeared extremely formidable. In fact I don't think that I have seen anywhere before anyone as powerful as He. Seeing Him, I felt very much awed and so I inquired: "May I know something of Your distinguished and illustrious self?" Then He laughed and replied, "I am Your brother. We will make each others' acquaintance tomorrow."
When I heard these words, my happiness increased even further. I even began to forget my own existence, feeling that I had become the same as this wonderful visitor." While speaking of His dream, Prabhu's external consciousness retreated far away and He began to roar very loudly again and again, totally inbued with the mood and manner of Shri Haladhar. "Bring me my wine, bring me liquor!", called Prabhu. His menacing shouts were almost enough to shatter one's eardrums. Shrivas tried to pacify Him, "Hear me Gosai! The liquor that you want is just by Your side. Whatever You wish to distribute to someone, he will easily obtain that." The devotees retreated to some distance, their bodies trembling with fear, while they simply gazed with wide open eyes upon what was happening. In their minds, the devotees considered, "There must be some explanation for all this! Prabhu continued to storm in a rage, his eyes shining like the morning sky during the sunrise. His gait was unsteady, as He laughed to Himself. Truly He appeared just like Sankarsan.
After a few moments however, Prabhu again appeared situated in His normal self. Then Murari Gupta began to explain Prabhus dream according to his interpretation. "To me it appears that some Mahaprabhus has come here (to Nadia). "Prabhu exclaimed, "I already told you that much. I asked you all where that distinguished person "is, whom I am destined to meet. Go Hari das! Go Shrivas Pandit! Go and look everywhere to see if anyone has recently arrived here. Thus these two stalwart Mahabhagavat devotees, in accordance with the order of the Lord, began to wander throughout Navadwip, keeping their eyes open, and their hearts filled with the joy of expectation. While they looked hither and thither, they remarked to each other, "It is my conjecture that Lord Sankarasan Himself has arrived here.".
Though they looked and wandered, being as they were overwhelmed with ecstasy, their actual inquiries, which ammounted only to the space of half a moment, bore no result. Finally, after wandering around Nadia nagara for nine hours, they returned to Prabhu, only to report, that they had seen no one. This news they submitted at the Lord's lotus feet, saying, "We didn't see anyone specifically possessed of any uncommon attributes. Though we looked in the homes of everyone, be they Vaishnava, Sannyasi's, householders, or even the infidels. As far as Navadvip goes, we have looked everywhere. The only places we weren't able to search, are in the nearby villages.
Shri Gaurachandra simply laughed at hearing their report. By some artifice, He now began to intimate something of the mysterious and esoteric position of Nityananda. During this incarnation, some people sing the glories of Shri Gaurachandra, but when they hear mention of the name Nityananda, they get up and run away. However, this is likened unto those who worship Govinda, but who have no regard for Lord Sankara. Due to this sin, many will have to go to the house of Yamaraja. The incarnation of Lord Nityanan-da is a treasure house of many profound and concealed secrets.
Only those who have been shown these mysteries, by Shri Chaitanya, are able to penetrate their hidden meaning. However, those who, without proper understanding criticize Nityananda Prabhu's unfathomable character, though they may even possess some devotion to Lord Vishnu, must nevertheless meet with many impediments and hindrances. Shrivasa, and the other devotees are perfectly conversant with all of the truths regarding Him. It was only part of the pastime of the Lord, that they weren't able to find Him. After a few moments, Prabhu smiled and told them: "Come along with Me, and I will show you were He is." So it was that with great exultation the devotees set out with Mahaprabhu all the while raising a hue and cry of "Jay Krishna!" Shri Gaurasundara took them directly to Nandan acarya's house, wherein He Himself immediately entered. There was seated a very high souled and saintly person, appearing like a valuable gem stone, and who appeared to those present as the simultaneous presence of ten million suns. His imperceptible absorption in devotional service, was beyond understanding. Totally absorbed in the object of His meditation, His lotus face displayed a perpetual smile. Through union in devotion, Nityananda could understand that His Prabhu had arrived. And thus He offered His salutations to the Lord along with all of His associates. All of the devotees remained standing in order to show proper respect, as they all remained perfectly silent, while simply taking in this scene through their eyes. Mahaprabhu, Visvambhara remained in front, having recognized Nityananda, the Lord of His life. The form of Shri Visvambhara is like that of Cupid himself, adorned with heavenly scented flower garlands and first class clothes, which are very light and soft to the touch. What is the effulgence of gold compared to the radiance emanating from His body? By seeing His beautiful face the moon himself develops a longing for such beauty. The captivating and enchanting forms of Shri Gauranga Nityananda Raya literally steal ones mind away. As they wander throughout the town of Nadia, in the company of their devoted followers. By seeing the radiance emanating simply from their teeth one forgets about the value of pearls. And by seeing their beautiful locks of hair, bound with strings of pearls, one looses his consciousness all together, and falls into a swoon. By seeing their wide expanded eyes, one can think only of lotus flowers.
Their hands extending down to their knees, with their chest highly raised, and decorated with very fine strands of white thread (i.e. brahman threads). Their foreheads were decorated with beautiful lines of tilak and though Their bodily limbs are unadorned by ornaments, still they appear very attractive. Simply by seeing the radiance emanating from the nails of Their lotus feet, one forgets entirely about the splendor of tens of millions of jewels. By seeing the laughter which emanates from Their lotus faces, one forgets all about the qualities of nectar. Thus Vrndavan dasa sings of the lotus feet of Shri Krishna Chaitanya and Nityananda Candra, who are his life and soul.
SRI GANGAMATA GOSWAMINI
Shriyuta Naresh Narayana was the king of Puntiya, which was located in the district of Rajshahi, part of the present country of Bangladesh. His only daughter was named Saci, and she was devoted to God from her very chidhood. In a very short time she became quite proficient in her studies, especially in grammar and poetry. As she grew up everyone became stunned by her blossoming youthful beauty. However, Saci was not attracted by any earthly, good-looking, well-to-do young men. She was only interested in Shri Madana Gopala.
The king, Naresh Narayana began to think about his daughter's marriage. When she came to know of this she told her father that she wouldn't marry anyone who was subject to death. The king and queen put their hand's to their heads and sat down. Their only daughter refused to marry! Thus they passed on from this world, having no further work to do here. The responsibility for governing the people now fell on Saci. For some days she attended to her duties and then, after appointing her representatives she set out to visit the holy places of pilgrimage. But she didn't feel satisfied within herself anywhere. Thus she began to search out a guru. She eventually came to Jagannatha Puri, and after having darsana of Lord Jagannatha there for a few days, she set out for Shri Vraja Dham. It was here that the benediction moon of her good fortune rose. Seeing the spiritual prowess and renunciation of Shri Haridas Pandit Goswami, who was a staunch follower of Shri Shri Nitai-Gaura, she became very happy within herself and thought, "After so many days I have finally found shelter." After falling at his lotus feet and offering her obeisances, with folded hands she prayed for his mercy.
"Ananta Acarya was a disciple of Gadadhara Pandit... a reservoir of all good qualities. No-one can estimate how great he was. Pandit Haridasa was his beloved disciple. Pandit Haridasa had great faith in Lord Chaitanya and Nityananda. Therefore, he took great satisfaction in knowing about their pastimes and qualities."
In the disciplic succession of the Ganga-mata Matha, Ananta Acarya is known as Vinoda-manjari. One of his disciples was Haridasa Pandit Goswami, who is also known as Shri Raghu Gopala and as Shri Rasa-manjari. His disciple Laksmipriya was the maternal aunt of Ganga-mata. Shri Haridas Pandit Goswami, in order to test Saci, told her that it wouldn't be possible for the daughter of a king to practice the renunciation required in order to serve the Lord in Vraja. Saci, however, could understand that this was simply a pretence. Thus she began her service in total indifference to the material world. Gradually she completely gave up wearing any ornaments or fine cloth. One day Shri Haridas told her, "If you can give up shyness, fear and pride and beg from door to door then you'll be qualified to receive my mercy." Hearing this Saci became very happy and covering her body with one soiled cloth she went from door to door of the residents of Vraja, to beg something to eat. Her body became very thin and pale. But the Vrajabasis could understand that she was not an ordinary woman because of her bodily effulgence The Vaishnavas were astonished by her great austerities. Though she became quite thin, she took no notice of that and continued to regularly bathe in the Yamuna, clean the temple of the Lord, go on parikrama, attend the arati ceremonies and hear discussions about Krishna. Seeing her intense renunciation, Haridas became eager to award her. He called her and told her, "Though you are the daughter of a king, the exertion with which you have worshiped Shri Krishna and the degree of renunciation you have shown have pleased me very much. Now be pleased to accept the divine mantra."
Thereafter, on the thirteenth day of the bright fortnight of the month of Caitra, Shri Saci was initiated in Radha-Krishna mantra by Shri Haridas Pandit Goswami. Having received the eighteen-syllable mantra, Saci became completely imbued with love of Krishna. Though she was very destitute, she began to serve Shri Guru and Govinda with intense devotion. Every day she would listen to her guru explain the sastras. Within a short time she became quite conversant with the literatures of the Goswamis, and this was very pleasing to everyone.
Around this time, one other female disciple of Haridas named Laksmipriya, who had a very pleasant demeanour, came to Vrndavana. Laksmipriya used to chant three lakhs of holy names every day. Haridas instructed her to take Saci with her to Radha-kunda and worship the Lord there. Thus the two of them came there and began to circumambulate Govardhana hill every day. All at once Shri Haridas Pandit called Saci back and instructed her to go to Puri to preach the message of Lord Gaurasundara to the pious people there. At this time almost all of the associates of Mahaprabhu had given up their earthly pastimes in Puri. In accordance with the order of her guru, Saci came there and took up residence in the house of Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya. As no one had lived there for so many days, the place was very run down. Only the Damodara-sila that Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya used to worship was remaining there. Saci resumed the regular worship of the Lord and recited the Shrimad-Bhagavatam daily. Many people were very impressed to hear her conclusive explanations of the sastras and thus they used to congregate there.
Saci's fame as an accomplished lecturer on the sastras began to spread far and wide. One day the king Mukunda Deva came to hear her class. He was very pleased to hear such authoritative conclusions coming from the mouth of this saintly mataji, so in his mind he wished to present something to her. That very night he had a dream in which Lord Jagannatha told him, "You should offer the place known as Sweta-Ganga to Saci." Early the next morning, the king came to see her, and Saci very meekly offered him a seat and inquired as to the purpose of his visit. The king thus related to her the order of Lord Jagannatha and requested her to accept the piece of land adjacent to Sweta-Ganga. Saci, however, was not interested in acquiring property, and she declined the offer. But the king insisted she accept this royal grant of land, and finally she agreed after considering that it was after all the order of Lord Jagannatha. Most pleased that he could render her some service, the king presented her with the deed to the parcel of land.
After the royal grant of land became known to the public, gossip that Saci was previously the daughter of a king began to circulate around Puri. Once, shortly before Mahavaruni (a day very auspicious for bathing in the Ganga), Saci thought to herself how very much she would like to leave Puri and make a pilgrimage to the Ganga for this occasion. But after considering that it was her guru's order to remain in Shri Ksetra, she decided to abandon the idea. But that night, Lord Jagannatha spoke to her in a dream, "Saci! Don't worry. On the day of the Mahavaruni you should bath in the Sweta-Ganga. Ganga devi herself will personally come to join you there." Having seen this dream, Saci was very jubilant. When the day of the Varuni bath arrived, in the middle of the night Saci went to the Sweta-Ganga alone. As she entered into the water, a strong current suddenly gripped her and carried her inside the Jagannatha Mandir, which was now flooded, much to her amazement, by the sacred waters of the Ganges. There she saw thousands and thousands of the residents of Shri Ksetra taking their baths. A great uproar resounded in all directions from the recitation of prayers and hymns. In the midst of these festivities, Saci very religiously performed the Varuni bath in the water of the Ganga.
Hearing the sound of what seemed to be a large crowd of people within the temple, the watchmen outside hurried to the temple superintendent who in turn informed the king. The king ordered them to enter the temple to investigate. To the astonishment of everyone, they found Shri Saci devi, the reciter of Shrimad-Bhagavatam, standing there alone. The priests of the temple surmised that she must have smuggled herself into the building in order to steal the ornaments of Lord Jagannatha. But others present felt it was impossible for her to have done this. "There must be some mystery behind it all," they said. So it was decided to confine her for trial and judgement.
Sacidevi didn't mind and very blissfully continued to chant the Holy Name. Meanwhile, the king had a dream in which Lord Jagannatha very angrily told him, "You should immediately release Saci. I personally caused the Ganga to flow from my own foot; it was this that brought her into the temple so that she could take bat on this auspicious day. If you are concerned for the welfare of your subjects and your own god fortune, then along with the temple priests you had better go and beg forgiveness at her feet and request to become her disciple."
After seeing this dream, the king awoke in a very worried state. He quickly completed his morning bath and called for the temple priests. They went to the place of Saci's confinement. The king opened the door and fell down at her lotus feet to offer his obeisances. He very humbly begged her forgiveness and submitted Lord Jagannatha's instruction that he become her disciple. Seeing the wonderful behaviour of the king, she placed her hand on his head that he might be benedicted. On the next auspicious day she initiated the king with Radha-Krishna mantra. Many of the priests also accepted the shelter of her lotus feet at this time. From that day she became known as Shri Ganga Mata Goswamini.
The king wanted to donate some land to Shri Ganga Mata as guru-daksina, but she declined, saying that she only wanted the king to attain loving devotion to Lord Krishna's lotus feet. "I am not qualified to accept anything more than this," she told him. But the king repeatedly entreated to her to accept something from him as guru-daksina. Finally, for the purpose of serving the Vaishnavas, she agreed. Thereafter, daily two pots of Mahaprasad, one pot of vegetables, one remnant of Lord Jagannatha's cloth and one hundred and sixty kauris (small conchshells) were sent to the asrama every day. That service is still observed to this day, the articles are offered first to her samadhi.
On one occasion a Pandit of the name Mahidhara Sarma came to the banks of the Sweta-ganga to offer oblations to his forefathers. He happened to hear of the wonderful qualities of Shri Ganga Mata and thus was inspired to have darsana of her lotus feet. He approached her and in turn Ganga Mata very respectfully received him, offered him seat and inquired as to the purpose of his visit. This brahmana, although a Pandit, was a very simple and straightforward man, so he honestly stated that he'd come to have her darsana and to receive spiritual knowledge from her. She was very pleased with his simplicity and mercifully began to speak the philosophy of Shrimad-Bhagavatam to him. The pandit listened very intently to her wonderful elucidation and thereafter accepted shelter at her lotus feet. On an auspicious day she initiated him with Radha-Krishna mantra.
Mahindhara Sarma's birthplace was Dhananjaypur. On the order of Shri Ganga Mata he preached the glories of Shri Shri Nitai-Gaura at various localities in the district of Ganjam. In the town of Jaipur within Rajasthan lived one devoted and religious-minded brahmana named of the name Shri Carma Sarma. In his house was a deity of Krishna called Shri Rasika Raya. The brahmana, however, was very poor and thus could not offer foodstuffs properly to the Deity. One night Lord's Jagannatha appeared to the brahmana in a dream and told him, "The service of Shri Rasika Raya who is present n your house is not being conducted properly. You should straight away bring Him here to Shri Ksetra and deliver Him to Shri Ganga Mata, who resides on the banks of Sweta-Ganga. Otherwise, some misfortune will befall you."
Having received this order from Lord Jagannatha, the brahmana didn't delay but immediately set out for Shri Ksetra. Arriving there, he inquired as to the whereabouts of Shri Ganga Mata and thus presented himself before her. Seeing the Deity of Shri Krishna, Ganga Mata became very happy. But when the brahmana explained to her the reason he had come she replied, "But I am simply a beggar. I eat by begging at a few houses every day. How will I be able to serve this Deity? You had better take your Deity with you. Please don't make me an offender." The brahmana didn't know what to do. He thought deeply about it and finally saw no other recourse than to place the Deity of Shri Rasika Raya in the tulasi garden of Shri Ganga Mata and flee away. Shri Rasika Raya appeared that night in a dream to Ganga Mata and informed her, "I have come here to accept your service. That brahmana put me in your tulasi garden and then left this place. I haven't eaten anything for a whole day. Please feed me." Shri Ganga Mata was struck with wonder. "The Supreme Lord Hari Himself is asking me to feed Him. Meditating on this, she became filled with ecstatic love . The hairs on her body stood on end. She quickly took bath and entered into the tulasi garden. There she saw Shri Rasika Raya, shining in His own effulgence. With her eyes full of tears, she fell down and offered her prostrated obeisances. "Here He is," she thought joyfully, "still hungry." She picked Him up and carried Him into her room, feeling very doubtful as to what she should do. Finally she bathed Him and made a simple offering of foodstuffs. Shri Rasika Raya immediately ate everything. Ganga Mata was floating in an ocean of happiness. She spread out a new piece of cloth and laid Him down to rest. In the morning, when the devotees came to Ganga Mata's house, they were astonished to see Shri Rasika Raya. When they heard the details of what had happened, they all cheered and chanted, "Hari! Hari!"
Every day, Shri Ganga Mata would lovingly prepare many varieties of vegetables and cakes to offer to Shri Rasika Raya. She would spend at least twelve hours every day serving her Deity. For some days she served Shri Rasika Raya by begging at people's houses. But as she got on in years this became somewhat difficult for her. Noticing this, Shri Rasika Raya by some trick or other would collect the necessary ingredients and paraphernalia from some rich merchants. But when Ganga Mata saw that there were many deficiencies in the worship due to her advanced age, she went before Shri Rasika Raya to pray for His forgiveness and to inform Him that she was unable to serve Him nicely now. For this reason she didn't want to remain alive any longer. Shri Rasika Raya told her in a dream, "I am very pleased with your service. You shouldn't lament. For a few more days you should continue to serve Me." Some days passed, but again she told Him that she didn't want to remain any longer. Her only request was that she might leave this world while chanting His Holy Name. Shri Rasika Raya replied, "All right, don't worry any more. After handing over My service to one of your qualified disciples, you should come join me in my eternal abode. Thereafter, she entrusted the worship of Shri Rasika Raya to one very peaceful and self-controlled disciple of hers called Vanamali dasa. At the age of one hundred and twenty years, in the Christian year of 1721, on the eleventh day of the bright fortnight of the month of Aswin, Shri Ganga Mata Goswamini, while seeing the graceful three-fold bending form of Shri Rasika Raya and meditating on His lotus feet, entered into His eternal pastimes. Her appearance was in the Christian year 1601. The Deity of Shri Rasika Raya is still present in the house of Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, next to the Sweta-Ganga.
SRI JAYADEVA GOSWAMI
Shri Jayadeva Goswami made his appearance at Kendubilvagram within the district of Birhum, during the 11th century. His father's name was Bhojadeva and his mothers name was Bama devi. Little is known about his early life, but it is said that he was a Sanskrit scholar at an early age and was inclined towards spiritual life. Some of his contemporaries have described him as "the incarnation of melody." Jayadeva is also famous as the great poet of Gita-govinda. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to especially relish hearing the Gita-Govinda as well as the works of Candidas, Vidyapati, Ramananda Raya and the Krishna-karnamrta by Bilvamangala Thakura. Shri Gita-Govinda is full of intimate pasimes of Shri Shri Radha-Govinda and is therefore meant for those who have acquired sufficient spiritual piety.
"For those who relish the remembrance of the pastimes of Shri Hari and are always anxious to hear those transcendental divine narrations, these verses, sweet as honey, have been composed by Jayadeva with the blessings of Mother Saraswati."
As a young man, Jayadeva went to Jagannatha Puri after visiting many holy places. There he married a girl named Padmavati, who was devoted to the Deity of Lord Jagannatha. Jayadeva also developed deep love for the Lord. Inspired by the beauty of Puri and Lord Jagannatha, he composed Gita-Govinda, and it quickly became the joy of the Vaishnava community. At the time, Gajapati Purusottamadeva was the provincial king. He was openly envious of Jayadeva and soon posed an ill-fated challenge. The king considered himself a master poet, on a par with Jayadeva, and composed a work called Abhinava Gita-Govinda. One day, he summoned his advisors and asked them to widely circulate his work, in an attempt to make it more popular than Jayadeva's. The king's own men, however, ridiculed his attempt, telling him that it was impossible to compare a lamp to the sun. Still, the king was relentless. A controversy soon arose, and the brahmanas (the king's priests) decided that the matter would be settled by placing both manuscripts before the Deity of Lord Jagannatha for the night. By morning, they said, the Lord Himself would decide. When the devotees went to greet the Deity the next day, they found Jayadeva's Gita-Govinda clasped against the Deity's chest, and the king's manuscript scattered about the floor. The decision was clear.
During the time that he became engaged as the chief pandita of Raja Laksman Sena, he resided at Navadvipa on the banks of the Ganga. Also present were three other panditas whose names he has mentioned in Shri Gita-Govinda. Shri Umapatidhar, Acarya Shri Govardhan and Kavi Ksamapati, who were his close friends. At that time, Laksmana Sena, aware of Jayadeva's position as a great Vaishnava, went to see Jayadeva to request him to become his minister, to become the royal pandita for the whole kingdom. However, when the king arrived with his ministers in full regalia, Jayadeva became very angry, as he was a brahmana and his residence was being intruded by a king. Jayadeva began to rebuke the king. "I'm leaving Navadvipa, I refuse to reside here any longer. Because kings are always involved in so much worldly activity, my residence has now become polluted. Therefore, I'm leaving. I'm very offended." Then Laksmana Sena, he paid his obeisances to Jayadeva and he pleaded, "Please don't leave my kingdom. I meant no offense. It's true, this royal order is such a despicable occupation. We have to be involved in so many undesirable activities to protect the country, but if you leave our kingdom then it will be a great loss. You've given your word, I know you can't break it, so please just take your residence across the Ganga." At that time Jayadeva was living just near the place where the Mayapur Chandradaya Mandir is now located. This is proof that the original Navadvipa was on the Chandradaya Mandir side, because the king told Jayadeva to take his residence across the river. "At least then you'll still be in our kingdom. Otherwise, if we lose the association of such a great Vaishnava this will be very inauspicious for everyone. We want the blessings of the Vaishnavas, and only for this reason have I come to you, to request you to use your knowledge for the upliftment of the entire kingdom." So Jayadeva, seeing that after criticising the king he did not become puffed up but instead took a humble position, realised that he was a devotee and not just a materialistic king who wanted to exploit him for his own name and fame. So then Jayadeva said, "Allright, I'll live across the river. You can also come and visit me, but don't come as a king, come in ordinary dress like a Vaishnava brahmana. You can come and see me in secret and we can discuss Krishna-katha."
In the Gita-Govinda, while writing about the pastimes of Radharani as She repented after Krishna had gone away, he became lost in thought. Not being able to decide whether or not he should write a particular verse regarding Krishna becoming the servant of his devotee, he decided to first take his bath and return to his writing later. While taking his bath, Krishna himself personally appeared in the form of Jayadeva, took his meal and then wrote down that very verse with his own hand. Then, while Padmavati was accepting her meal Jayadeva returned from taking his bath in the Ganga. Padmavati was completely startled to see her husband, and Jayadeva aswell was very surprised to see that his wife was accepting her meal before him (which is never done by Hindu wives). Finally she explained that he had already taken his bath once, taken his meal and then gone to his room. Jayadeva went to his room and saw the verse that he had been considering whether to write or not, now composed in golden letters. With tears in his eyes and voice choked up he called out to his wife, "Padmavati! You are so fotunate! You had darsana of the Supreme Lord!" Lokasvana Sena, devotee-king, built a hut made of leaves at Campahati for Jayadeva. Lord Krishna appeared there to Jayadeva and his wife. Changing the colour to that of the golden campa tree which grew in the area, He revealed His form of Lord Chaitanya. He told them He would soon appear in Navadvipa to perform congregational chanting before taking sannyasa and going to Puri, where He would relish Jayadeva's Gita-govinda. Lord Chaitanya asked them also to go to Puri.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura has commented that even though Shri Gauranga Deva hadn't revealed his internal pastimes at that time, within the heart of Shri Jayadeva, Shri Bilvamangala, Shri Candidas, and Shri Vidyapati, the transcendental mood of Mahaprabhu was awakened even before He Himself actually made His appearance. Jayadeva Goswami also composed a book named Candraloka. His disappearance is on Pausa Sankranti. His worshippable Deities, Shri Shri Radha-Madhava, are being worshipped in the former temple of Radha-Govinda just outside the present city of Jaipur.
In the Padma Purana Lord Siva says to his wife Durga, mayavadam asac-chastram pracchanam bauddham ucyate / mayaiva vihitam devi kalau brahmana-murtina. "My dear devi, in the age of Kali, I take the form of a brahmana and explain the Vedas through false scriptures in an athiestic way, similar to Buddhist philosophy." In the name of Vedic principles, people were unnecessarily performing animal sacrifice for the pleasure of the tongue. Buddha descended and rejected the Vedas, urging people to follow Him instead. In this way Krishna in the form of Buddha stopped the unnecessary slaughter of animals. However, since no one was now following the Vedas, Siva took the form of Sankaracarya descended and preached "Follow the Vedas, but the Vedas say brahma satyam jagan mithya." Sankaracarya was born in the year 608 of the Sakabda Era in the month of Vaisakha, on the third day of the waxing moon, in a place in South India known as Kaladi. His father's nmame was Sivaguru, and he lost his father at an early age. When Sankaracarya was only eight years old, he completely his study of all scriptures and took sannyasa from Govinda, who was residing on the banks of the Narmada. Before he could take sannyasa, he was having difficulty because his parents would not allow it due to his tender age. He went to the deity of Krishna and prayed, "Please let me take sannyasa." At certain important points, Sankara actually prayed to Krishna, as he was actually a devotee. Because Lord Siva was the greates Vaishnava, he was lamenting at every moment that he had to teach this Mayavadi philosophy. After accepting sannyasa, Sankaracarya stayed with his spiritual master for some days. He then took his permission to go to Varanasi and from there went to badarikasrama where he stayed until his twelfth year. While there, he wrote a commentary on Brahma-sutra, as well as ten Upanisads and Bhagavad-gita. He also wrote Sanat-sujatiya and Nrsimha-tapini. Among his many disciples, his four chief disciples are Padmapada, Suresvara, Hastamalaka and Trotaka. After departin from Varanasi, Sankaracarya went to Prayaga, where he met a great learned scholar called Kumarila Bhatta. Sankaracarya wanted to discuss the authority of the scriptures, but Kumarila Bhatta, being on his deathbed, sent him to his disciple Mandana, in the city of Mahismati. It was there that Sankaracarya defeated Mandana Misra in a discussion of the sastras. This person was the leader of all the karma-khandis in India at that time. This is about 600 years after Christ in India. So Sankara was preaching in India, defeating all other philosophers of his time. Predominant in India at the time were the karma-khandis and the buddhists also. So he was meeting them in debate, and defeating all of them. So he met the leader of the karma-khandis, Mandana Misra, and Sankara was always displaying his mystic powers. Mandana had a wife named Sarasvati, or Ubhaya-bharati, who served as a mediator between Sankaracarya and her husband. She was said to possess the intelligence of goddess Sarasvati, she was a very wise woman. After many days of debate, the judge decided that Sankara had won the debate, has defeated my husband. So Sankara was about to leave, when the wife said, "But you know, the wife is the better. You've defeated him, but you haven't defeated me yet. So now I want to talk about the arts of love, the arts of sexual love." So then Sankara said, "I'm a brahmacari, I don't know anything about that." And she said, "Well if you cannot discuss with me on this point, you will have been considered to be beaten by me, and all your great fame will be diminished." So he said, "All right, you give me one month, and then we'll talk." "Very good," the woman said. So then he went with his followers to a lonely place, and he went into meditation, and he left his body. So he was travelling around in his astral body when he saw one palace, so he entered that palace and discovered one king who was on his death bed. The king was leaving his body, and just when he left his body Sankara entered the body. So the people who were standing around were first lamenting, "O the king is dead," but then the king began to stir. "Oh the king is alive!" So for one month Sankara stayed within this king's body, and of course in those ancient times kings had many wives, and also many concubines or girlfriends whom they stayed with. So in that one month's time, he learnt all about the sensual arts, and there is an interesting adventure. The enemies of Sankaracarya, (he had many enemies because he was such a great debater) somehow understood, because he had disappeared, and they had been wondering "Where has he gone, we have not seen him." Somehow they could understand what he had done, just by logic. "Search everywhere," they concluded, "because his body must be lying somewhere in trance, and when we find that body we'll burn it, and he'll be finished, because he won't have any body to come back to." So they wanted to make him a ghost by taking away his gross body. He was in the midst of his palace, and his enemies were searching, and they were coming near the place where his body was lying in trance. Some of his disciples also saw his enemies coming, so one of them ran to the palace. So the king was on his throne, talking to the ministers, and this disciple of Sankaracarya's came running into the palace. "Master, Master! They are coming to burn your body!" Everyone saw the king just drop dead to the ground. "What is this?" And then Sankara entered his own body again. After attaining this experience, he wanted to discuss erotic principles with Ubhaya-bharati, but without hearing his discussion, she blessed him and assured the continuous existence of the Srngeri-matha. She then took leave of material life. Afterwards, Mandana Misra took the order of sannyasa from
Sankaracarya and became known as Suresvara. snake sheltering frog
When his mother was leaving her body, he came to see her, as that was the condition on which he took sannyasa. When his mother was leaving her body, he had to come back and perform the funeral. So when she was dying he received news and returned, and she asked him, "So now I am leaving my body. Please tell me what I should do now to perfect my life." First of all he began to preach his mayavadi darshan, impersonal philosophy. And she said, "I don't understand what you're talking about. Give me something that will actually be of benefit to me." So Sankaracarya then said, "Worship Krishna." So she did, and she went back to Godhead. Sankaracarya defeated many scholars throughout India and converted them to his Mayavada philosophy. He left the material body at the age of thirty-three.
During the period from before Sankara, Vaisnavism was making headway in the south under the active patronage of King Kulasekhara of Kerala, who was the author of the immortal Vaishnava poem Mukunda-mala-stotra. He invited Vaishnava scholars from other provinces to check the advance of Buddhism and other non-devotional sects. Kulasekhara built the Kulasekhara temple in the suburb of Krangamore, another at Kulasekharapuram and Vaisnavite Matha at Kumbakonam. Prabhakara is said to have been employed by Kulasekhara to fight Buddhism. Prabhakara preceded Sankara's disciple Padmapad, and during the lifetime of Sankara, it was not Kulasekhara but Rajaa Raj and Raja Sekhara who were the kings. Kulasekhara tells us in his Mukunda-mala-stotra that he was the king; so it appears that Kulasekhara was earlier than Sankara. This Kulasekhara, author of the Mukunda-mala-stotra, seems to be the same as the famous Alvar Kulasekhara who wrote the Vaishnava devotional poems in Tamil which have been included in the Nalayira Prabandham. Some scholars distinguish the Sanskrit author Kulasekhara and from the Tamil author of the same name.
SRI BILVAMANGALA THAKUR
The famous sannyasi named Bilvamangala Thakura is also known as Lilasuka. Suka means "parrot". This name is said to have been given by his guru Somagiri on account of his merit in describing the loving lila or sports of Shri Krishna. There seems to have been more than one person of the name of Bilvamangala but we are concerned with the author of Krishnakarnamrta. The history of Bilvamangala Thakura is given in a book called Shri Vallabha Digvijaya. He appeared in the eighth century Saka era in the province of Dravida and was the chief disciple of Vishnusvami. It is evident that Bilvamangala belonged to the Vishnusvami sect, because neither the Ramanuja sect nor the Madhva sect had yet come into being. In a list of temples and monasteries kept in Sankaracarya's monastery in Dvaraka, Bilvamangala Thakura is mentioned as the founder of the Dvarakadhisa Temple there. He entrusted the service of his deity to Hari Brahmacari, a disciple of Vallabha Bhatta. The worship of Padmanabha at Trivandrum was offered the first worship by Bilvamangala. The fact that Bilvamangala was at first a Sankarite follower before his conversion into Vaisnavism may be gathered from his own writing. During this period from before Sankara, Vaisnavism was making headway in the south under the active patronage of King Kulasekhara of Kerala, who was the author of the immortal Vaishnava poem Mukunda-mala-stotra. Bilvamangala's conversion to Vaisnavism was quite possible in an age of religious revival, when the disciples of Sankara founded the maths at Trichur dedicated to Lord Vishnu in His manifestation of Parthasarathi and Narasimha. The memory of Bilvamangala is still fresh at Trichur and other parts of the Kerala state.
Krishnadasa Kaviraja (16th century) by way of explaining ther first sloka of the Karnamrta, records the traditional account of the life of our poet in his commentary Sarangarangada. According to Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami the composer of Karnamrta was first given worldly attachments; then he cultivated kevala-jnana or contemplation of impersonality of Brahman; and thereafter he turned out to be a very close devotee of Lord Krishna. Born in a brahmin family in South India, he is said to have been a renowned scholar and lived on the eastern bank of the holy river Krishna-Venna in South India. He had an illicit love affair with a dancing girl who was a musician and harlot named Cintamani, who used to live on the opposite bank of the river Krishna-Venna, and whom he used to visit every night. One stormy night, finding no boat, he risked his life to cross the terrible river by floating on a corpse that lay on the surface of the stream. But, to his disappointment, he found the gate of the prostitute's house was bolted from within. He shouted her name with all his might, but it was of no avail. His cries were deadened in the deafening thunder, boisterous winds and torrential rains which were beating on the windows and walls. What was to be done? Nothing could daunt his morbid passion which should be satisfied even at the cost of his life. He was then as a devil incarnate. The walls were too high and steep to scale. The weather-beaten but passionate Bilvamangala made a last desperate attempt to climb the steep wall. Having nothing else to hold on to, he seized the tail of a snake, which clung to the wall, and succeeded in leaping over but fell heavily to the ground on the other side of the wall bringing Cintamani to the spot. In what was practically a dying condition, he was discovered by his love for whom, for the sake of a frantic infatuation, he had risked his life. Had she not found and nursed him, it is certain he would have died. She carried him into the room and there nursed him tenderly as he hung between life and death. She, seeing his mad love for her, felt a pinch in her conscience and reminded him that such an intense love, if offered to God, might lead them to their highest good. When he recovered consciousness, she pitied and abused him for his fool hardy venture, saying, "What a great fool you are! Shame on your learning! I know and I am always conscious of my own wicked life and profession. Had you been attached to God in the way you love me, you would have been an angel." It sounded like a call of God to Bilvamangala, who had existed in a circle of hell. The whole face of things was instantly changed, so inspiring were her words at that great moment. To him, those words of hers were not merely a reprieve, but a total deliverance from his hateful life, a restoration that suffused his whole being. Her grim censure proved wholesome to the remorseful Bilvamangala; changed the whole course of his life, giving it a swift turn into spiritual channels. With this she too renounced the world, giving up all her fortunes, and as such she became Bilvamangala's vartma-pradarsaka guru or his guru showing him the way to the highest well being. The very next day he renounced the world and began the most severe asceticism, being initiated by his guru Somagiri. From this sannyasi guru, Somagiri, Bilvamangala learnt practices for self-control and concentration of the mind and also got Gopal-mantra. Later however, Bilvamangala once desired to enjoy the beautiful wife of a brahmana. But while in her company he became disgusted with himself for his lusty desire. Blaming his eyes for diverting him from his spiritual quest, Bilvamangala took the beautiful woman's hairpins and pierced his eyes.
In his early life, Bilvamangala Thakura was an impersonalist monist, and he used to meditate on the brahman effulgence. Later he became a devotee, and the reason for this change is explained in a verse that he himself wrote, and which was quoted by Shrila Rupa Gosvami in his book Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (3.1.44.). advaita-vithi-pathikair upasyah svananda-simhasana-labdha-diksah \ sathena kenapi vayam hathena dasi-krta gopa-vadhu-vitena. "Although I was worshiped by those on the path of monism and initiated into self-realization through the yoga system, I am nonetheless forcibly turned into a maidservant by some cunning boy who is always joking with the gopis. (CC Madhya 10.177-178).
His devotional spirit that had been acquired in his previous life or lives, but was up to now latent, now became manifest. He composed these slokas about the Vrndavana-lila of Krishna while offering service to his guru, and seeing these, Somagiri gave him the appelation "Lilasuka" and permitted him, at his desire, to go on pilgrimage to Shri Vrndavana. Then he traveled to Vrndavana and composed beautiful songs about Krishna, whom, although he was rendered blind, he could see with spiritual vision. On his way, his love intoxication became intensive and he became extremely impatient. It was Krishna himself who added to his love intoxication and thus became his siksa-guru towards the acquirement of the climax of love intensity. He intensely desired to enter into the eternal pastimes of the Lord, and he lived at Vrndavan for 700 years in the vicinity of Brahma-kunda, a still existing bathing tank in Vrndavan. In the Krishna-karnamrta, he specifically mentions Bhagavan, Krishna the cowherd boy who has peacock feathers on His crown, as his instructing spiritual master because the Lord of Vrndavana used to come to Bilvamangala and talk with him and supply him with milk. One time when Krishna was walking with him they were holding hands...
He lived for some time at Vrndavana after his initiation. He is said to have composed his poem when he was still at Vrndavana, and on the way from there to his native province.
Bilvamangala actually entered into the transcendental pastimes of Lord Krishna. He has recorded his transcendental experiences and appreciation in the book known as Krishna-karnamrta. Karnamrta means "nectar for the ears." In the beginning of that book he has offered his obeisances to his different gurus, and it is to be noted that he has adored them all equally. The first spiritual master mentioned in Cintamani, who was his instructing spiritual master because she first showed him the spiritual path. The prostitute Cintamani deserves commemoration for having saved him from death, both physical and moral, and presenting him to literature and to the world of Vaishnavas, It was God who was mysteriously preparing him for a world where sins and lusts are unknown. God lifted him out of the slough of earthly sin through the instrumentality of Cintamani whom Bilvamangala has immortalised in the the first sloka of his Krishna-karnamrta, ana makes obeisances to her who, in the character of a harlot, showed him the way to the kingdom of God. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu acquired this one sataka of the three satakas of Krishna-karnamrta from the south of India. He heard it recited at a gathering of brahmana Vaishnava panditas on the bank of the river Krishna. He was so charmed to hear of the sweetness and grace of Krishna's divine love sports which compose the subject matter that He kept a copy of it with great care and enthusiasm. Shri Chaitanya told Ramananda Raya that His devotional principle is just the same as that found in Krishna-karnamrta. Krishnadasa Kaviraja says that there is no book like the Karnamrta in the whole of the threefold world. He who reads it incessantly knows the depth of the charming beauty of Shri Krishna.
yei yei sloka jayadeva, bhagavate
rayera natake, yei ara karnamrte
sei sei bhave sloka kariya pathane
sei sei bhavanese karena asvadane
"When Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu read the verses of Jayadeva's Gita-govinda, of Shrimad-Bhagavatam, of Ramananda Raya's dram Jagannatha-vallabha-nataka, and of Bilvamangala Thakura's Krishna-karnamrta, He was overwhelmed by the various ecstatic emotions of those verses. Thus He tasted their purports." (CC Antya 20.67-68)
karnamrta, vidyapati, shri-gita-govinda
ihara sloka-gite prabhura karaya ananda
"The Lord especially liked to hear Bilvamangala Thakura's Krishna-karnamrta, the poetry of Vidyapati and Shri Gita-govinda by Jayadeva Gosvami. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu felt great pleasure in His hear when His associates chanted verses from those books." (CC Antya 15.27).
Raya Ramananda, Vasudeva Datta Thakura and others made copies of it for their personal use. It has, since then, been regarded as the very best kind of devotion in the Gaudiya Vaishnava community. We are only discussing the first Sataka of 112 verses of the Krishnakarnamrta which Shri Chaitanya recited, and which is the most popular in Bengal.
The complete treatise Krishna-karnamrta is dedicated to the transcendental pastimes of Shri Krishna and Shrimati Radharani. It is a book to be read and understood by the most elevated devotees of Shri Krishna.
There were two brothers. One brother was named Candidas because he worshipped Candi, One very ferocious form of Kali. So his brother was a Vaishnava. Candidas was rich, because when one worships Durga, naturally so much money comes. He had a big garden, and a palace. So the Vaishnavas generally (that is, before Prabhupada's appearance) are poor. The Vaishnava brother had a salagram, but he had no flower to offer. So he would look in his brother's garden, and he would lust over it. "So many flowers, and my salagram gets no flower." One day while he was looking at the garden, he mentally offered a flower from that garden to his salagram. And somehow or other, Candidas picked the very same flower the next day, and he offered to Candi. Immediately she appeared. "I am pleased with you, Candidas. What benediction do you want?" Candi said, "Wait, every day I am worshipping you. Why today have you suddenly become present? Tell me that." "Because," she said, "You have offered me the flower which has been offered to Salagram, and that it is prasadam. By seeing that prasadam flower I became pleased, so I appeared before you." "But if salagram is superior to you," Candidas said, "Why did you not tell me, stupid Candidas, why are you worshipping me? You should worship Salagram." So Candi said, "Well you never asked me who was Supreme. Did you ever ask me? I would have given you reply. I know who is Supreme, Krishna is Supreme, and Salagram is the worshippable object, not me. But because you were at least worshipping me, so I thought I would train you in worship. And then you find out who is to be worshipped, then you will actually worship properly." So Candidas when he heard this, said, "I'm really sorry that I've wasted my life. Please excuse me, I'm going to worship Salagram. Is that alright?" No no, I'm happy! Go worship Salagram," Candi said. And then in lamentation, Candidas wrote many songs, and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to listen to these songs and get ecstasy.
SRI VALLABHACARYA AND VITTHALANATHAJI: DEVOTEES OF LORD SRINATHAJI
We can scarcely think of the holy town of Nathadwara without Shri Vallabhacaryqa, the great religious reformer and teacher. His pushti-marga has brought millions of people in western India to Krishna consciousness. Shri Vallabhacarya was born in 1479 in the forest of Camparanya, near the present city of Raipur in central India, while his parents were returning from pilgrimage. His father, Laksmana Bhatta, a reknowned scholar from a Brahmin family in South India, died while Vallabha was still a child. His mother therefore stayed at the home of her parents, and Vallabha soon went to study at Varanasi, where he became a great scholar. He studied under the saint Madhavendra Puri. Vallabha realized that since the world comes from Brahman, the Supreme Absolute Truth - Lord Shri Krishna - the world cannot be false. As the ornaments fashioned from gold must be golden, the world created by Brahman, the supreme reality, must be real. After studying in Varanasi, Shri Vallabhacarya began travelling all over India, speaking about the Shrimad-Bhagavatam and teaching sublime devotion to Lord Krishna. The eighty-four "seats", or places where he taught, are held in great esteem by his followers. These baithaks, as the seats are known, are marked by shrines where he is offered daily homage. As part of the worship, Shrimad-Bhagavatam is placed upon the seat, for it is felt that Shri Vallabhacarya stays there to this day, revealing from the Bhagavatam the glories of Lord Shri Krishna. Shri Vallabhacarya once visited the great city Vidyanagara, on the bank of the river Tungabhadra. There he enlightened Krishnadeva Raya, the great South Indian king, and defeated the impersonal Sankarity philosophy. This victory moved the other scholars to glorify him with a grand procession. King Krishnadeva Raya gave him a gift of many gold coins. Shri Vallabhacarya gave most of these to the local Brahmins and kept only seven. Those seven coins were then made into an ornament for Shrinathaji. It is still used to adorn the Lord today. At the time of Shri Vallabhacarya, India's religious life had been torn by the Mogul invasion. Spiritual practices had worn down, and the schools of Buddha and Sankara had brought confusion. Shri Vallabhacarya spread the true spirit of the Vedas through dialogues and debates at many of the eight-four seats. He taught, "The one scripture is the Bhagavad-gita, the Supreme Godhead is Shri Krishna, the supreme mantra is Shri Krishna's name, and the best work is His service." The strong personal devotion taught by Shri Vallabhacarya closely resembles the spirit of the followers of Lord Chaitanya. Lord Chaitanya's followers point more toward congregational chanting of the holy name of the Lord, while the tradition of Vallabhacarya centers more on private chanting, worshipping the Deity of Lord Krishna within the home, and singing devotional songs for the Deity's pleasure. Shri Vallabhacarya urged his followers toward humility and told them to rely on Lord Krishna's grace. If there is a means to get the Lord's grace, he taught, it is humility. Vallabhacarya's book known as Sodasha-grantha, his Anubhashya commentary on Vedanta-sutra, and his Subodhini commentary on Shrimad-Bhagavatam are among the most famous of the many books he wrote. One of Shri Vallabhacarya's two sons was Shri Vitthalanaathaji. He brought a wealth of devotional art, music, and culture into the pusti-marga and raised the worship of Shrinathaji to a very high standard. He arranged for the Deitym to be adorned every day according to the seasons and festive occasions. With the changing of the seasons and the time of day, the Lord wears different fabrics and colous, and different types of ragas and poems are used to praise Him. The foods chosen for the Lord also vary, following the Ayurvedic scriptures. In the hot season, for example, cool foods like mung sprouts are offered, and in the cold season the Lord enjoys a spicy milk sweet called svadhsont. Vitthalanaathaji was also famous for attracting many kings to the service of the Lord. He converted the king of Mewar, Udai Singh, and since that time the royal family of Mewar have been pusti-marga devotees. Even the great Mogul emperor Akbar was drawn to Vitthalanaathaji and gave large tracts of land for the service of the Deity. During the time of Vallabhacarya and Shri Vitthalanaathaji, the ashta chapa poets (literally, the Lord's "eight friends") were selected to sing the praises of Shrinathaji at each of His eight daily darsanas. These famous poets left a wealth of verses glorifying the Lord. These are still sung daily before the Deity. Sura Dasa, perhaps the most famous amongst the poets, is said to have written more than 100,000 verses. In one well-known poem, another of the ashta-capa poets, Caturbhuja Dasa, sings of Shrinathaji's splendour, "Today He is something. Tomorrow He is something more. Every day Shrinathaji is totally fresh and new!" Shrinathdwara means "The gateway of Lord Shrinathaji." The town was built in the 17th century for the Deity of Lord Shrinathaji, after He was brought to Rajasthan from the town of Jatipur, at the foot of Govardhan Hill in Vrndavana. According to the Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita, the Deity of Shrinathaji is none other than the Gopala Deity who appeared in a dream to Madhavendra Puri, the great spiritual forefather of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The Deity had been lost, so in the dream the Deity told Madhavendra Puri to find Him on Govardhana Hill, extricate Him from the thickets, and establish Him in a temple. "Please pull Me out of thes forest, make a beautiful temple for Me, and hold a great festival." Commanded by the Lord, Madhavendra Puri inspired the local villagers to rediscover the deity and perform the festival to instal Him atop the hill. So the follwers of Lord Chaitanya and those of Shri Vallabhacarya are united in adoring this Deity of Shrinathaji as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Devotees from Jatipur had fled to Rajasthan with the Deity to protect Him from the destructive reign of the Muslim ruler Aurangzeb. Of course, the Lord doesn't have to flee from anywhere, but simply to give His devotees a chance to serve Him He engages in the pastime of fleeing from one place to another. Nathdwara lies near Udaipur in the hills of Mewar, a brave and chivalrous area of Rajasthan. For centuries the armies of Mewar succeeded in resisting aggression by many Mogul kings and preserved the Vedic culture intact. The great Mewar king Bappa Rawal thwarted assaults by the first Mogul attacker, Mohammad Bin Kasim. Later, Maharana Kumbh, Maharana Sanga, and other kings fought valiant battles against the Moguls, stopping them from taking over Mewar. Even the powerful emperor Akbar faced a great battle in Mewar, and only for a few years could he subjugate Mewar, until Maharana Pratap Singh chased the Moguls away. At the time of King Akbar, several members of the royal family of Mewar were ardent devotees of Lord Shrinathaji, or, as He was known at Govardhana, Lord Gopala. Initiated by Vitthalanathaji, the son of the revered teacher Vallabhacarya, they were anxious to have Shrinathaji in their kingdom, and they prayed to the Lord that He came there. But in the reign of King Akbar religious tolerance prevailed, so there was no need for the Deity to move. But fifty-three years after Akbar came the fanatical king Aurangzeb, who desecrated and destroyed Hindu temples, especially in the area of Vrndavana. And the forces of Aurangzeb also threatened Govardhana. When the devotees saw the Mogul army advancing on Govardhana, they somehow showed the attackers the various titles and gifts given to the temple by the Mogul kings. Thus the devotees persuaded the leaers of the army that the temple had always been looked upon gracefully by the emperor of Delhi. So the army commander said, "We will not attack you. But move the Deity from here as soon as possible." Thus Shrinathaji was allowed to move from Govardhana.
For almost six months the Deity stayed in Agra, where His devotees observed the Lord's festivals in secret. Then He set out for Mewar. In the places along the way, devotees were enthusiastic to welcome Shrinathaji, and they would oblige Him to stay with them, sometimes for as much as one or two months. Thus the journey from Govardhana to Mewar took some thirty-two months to complete.
In Mewar the Lord's chariot gradually reached the town called Sinhad, where a princess had resided who was a great devotee of the Lord. She had strongly desired that Lord Shrinathaji make this His home, and the Lord had promised her in a dream that He would do so. Now the princesse had passed away, but the Lord inspired His devotees to build a beautiful temple there, next to the Aravalli hills. This abode of the Lord, established around the year 1675, came to be known as Shri Nathdwara. The atmosphere of Mewar calls to the mind Vrndavana. Mewar has pleasant hills that resemble Govardhana, and the river Banas reminds one of the Yamuna. The temple of Shrinathaji differs in design from most of the temples of India. Most temples have large decorative domes called sikharas, conspicious from a long distance. But the temple of Shrinathaji, and other places of worship for the followers of Vallabhacarya, are more like houses. Called havelis (Persian for "home"), they are made to suggest the Vrndavana house of Krishna's father, Nanda Maharaja. The temple, therefore, is also known as Nanda Bhavan or Nandalaya, "the house of Nanda Maharaja." Decorating the top of the Shrinathaji temple is a spire, or kalash, as well as the disc of Lord Vishnu and seven flags. A guard stands by the flags twenty-four hours a day, protecting them from the discourtesies of the birds.
TUKURAMA, JNANESVARA AND NAMADEVA: DEVOTEES OF LORD VITTHALA
Saint Tukurama was the most famous of all Maharastrian saints. He lived during the seventeenth century, and over the last three hundred years his devotional influence has been deeply felt by the local people. His poems, the 4,500 verses known as the Abhangas, have become part of the public memory of Maharashtra. They are sung in every village and every home. Tukurama preached throughout his life, exhorting his countryment to take to the path of bhakti, devotional service. His language was so simple and down to earth that even the most simple villagers understood it completely. He is the main force behind the continuous bhajans and kirtanas performed at the many festivals in Pandharpur. In his autobiography, Tukurama says he was initiated in a dream by Raghava Chaitanya Kesava Chaitanya. Though not everyone agress, Gaudiya Vaishnavas understand this to mean Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. As Supreme Lord comments (Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya 9.282, purport), "The sankirtan party belonging to Tukurama is still very popular in Bombay. It exactly resembles the Gaudiya Vaishnava sankirtan parties, for they chant the holy name with mrdanga and karatalas." They also wear neck beads and tilak similar to that of the Gaudiya tradition. Tukurama Acarya was a great devotee of Lord Vitthala. The Deity is self-manifested, He spontaneously appeared, without being carved and installed. Expressing full faith in this Deity of Lord Vitthala, Tukurama wrote, "If anyone says that this Deity was once installed, his mouth will be filled with worms." Saint Tukurama sometimes had to suffer humiliation and opposition from envious people, but he always stayed more humble than a blade of grass, thus changing the hearts of his enemies. The saint left for the spiritual world in his selfsame body while engaged in nama sankirtana, chanting of the holy names of the Lord, with the residents of his home village. The villagers attested they saw a spiritual airplace descend and saw Tukurama board the plane and leave for the spiritual sky.
Another exalted spiritual leader among Lord Vitthala's devotees was Jnanesvara, who lived in the thirteenth century. At the age of sixteen, he translated the complete text of Bhagavad-gita into simple Marathi, the language of Maharashtra. His work is know as Jnanesvari. He attained samadhi (passed away) at the age of twenty one.
Also famous is the life of Saint Namadeva. Once when Saint Namadeva was a young boy, his father, who worshipped a Deity of Lord Vitthala at home, went out, leaving Namadeva in charge of the Deity. When the time came to offer food to the Lord, Namadeva prepared a plate, placed it on the altar, and sat down, beggning the Lord to accept the offering. Following his father's advice to give the Lord some time to eat before taking back the plate, Namadeva left the Deity room and patiently waited, expecting the Lord to literally eat up the food. From time to time the boy would check, but the Lord seemed to be standing still. After quite some time had passed and Namadeva saw no sign that the Lord would ever eat, Namadeva decided to intervene. Entering the Deity room, he appeared to Lord Vitthala, insisting that the Lord eat it right away. And if He wouldn't, the boy threatened, he would smash his own head against the wall. To the boys's surprise, Lord Vitthala then took his lotus hands off His hips and physically ate the offering.
The Padma Purana and the Skanda Purana briefly describe why the Lord journeyed to Pandharpur and why He stays there in this form. Once, Shrimati Radharani, Lord Krishna's consort in the village of Vrndava, visited Dvaraka, where Lord Krishna lived as a king. At that time, Rukmini Devi, Lord Krishna's queen, noticed that Krishna was dealing more intimately with Radharani that He had ever done with her. Upset, she departed for the forest of Dindirvana, near Pandharpur. Lord Krishna followed Rukmini to apologize, but His apology left her unmoved. So the Lord moved on to Pandharpur to visit one of His devotees, Bhakta Pundarika, now popularly known in Maharashtra as Pundalika. When the Lord reached Pundarika's asrama, Pundarika was serving his elderly parents. So Pundarika gave the Lord a seat of brick and asked the Lord to wait. The Lord did as told. He stood, lotus hands on His hips, waiting for Pundarika to return. While He was waiting, Rukmini, having forgotten her distress, came from Dindirvana and rejoined Him. Both of Them stayed in Pandharpur in Deity form. To this day the Lord stands on the same brick, but now he's waiting fo all His devotees to come and see Him.
Among the devotional poets of Karnataka, he ranks very high and is often described as the “dasasrestha.” His musical contribution was also commendable. Born in an aristocratic family he renounced all his wealth and took to begging alms for his livelihood. He was initiated by Vyasaraya at Vijayanagara.
It was in Purandaragarh near Pune that he was born in 1484 and named Krishnappanayaka. Starting as a jeweller by profession, he went by the name of Purandaravithala after he became a “Haridasa” with a Madhva orientation.
His contribution to Kannada literature is two fold, music and poetry. His compositions are divisible into five categories:(1) those extolling his spiritual masters and the Supreme Lord, (2) those which present an introspective analysis of himself, (3) those which deal with the childhood pastimes of Krishna, (4) those which critically view society and its ways, and (5) those which are didactic in nature. All of these compositions are set to music. Apart from these kirtanas, he wrote a number of other compositions called the Sulas and the Ugabhogas. The Sulas aremusical compositions in which the beating of time is the most essential element, while the Ugabhoga’s are those which can be rendered musically in different tunes and time. He was undoubtedly extremely proficient in music, yet how he acquired this talent is unknown.
Up until Purandara’s time (15th century), Karnataka music had remained a sophisticated art reserved for the scholars and panditas. It was Purandara dasa who devised a novel scheme to bring music to the masses, not only through his own public singing, but by devising a fresh method of teaching music.
With Purandara dasa began the institution of “Dasakuta” which had its roots in the spiritual legacy from Naraharitirtha Shripadaraya. The preceptor of Purandara, the musician saint, was Vyasaraya, who designated his pupil’s works as the Purandaropanisad.
RUPA AND SANATANA GOSWAMIS
Jiva Goswami, in Laghu toshani, gives information about Rupa and Sanatana Goswami.
Jagadguru Sarvajna was born in the Varadvaja Gotra of the Brahmana caste in Karnataka. He was an aristocratic brahmana (associated with royalty), and was a master of the three Vedas. His son was Aniruddha, whose two sons were Rupeshwara and Harihara. Rupeshwara left for the east, in the kingdom where a friend named Sikhareshvara stayed. Rupeshvara's son Padmanabha settled at Navahatta in Burdwan.
There he raised a family, and one son of his had five sons. One of these five, Mukunda deva, moved to Fateyabad (Jessore). He had several sons, of them Sanatana, Rupa and Anupama became exclusive devotees of Shri ChaitanyaMahaprabhu. So Rupa and Sanatana were the great- great grandsons of Rupeshwara, a Karnatik brahmana who came to Bengal.
They lived at Ramakeli, where they served as ministers of Nawab Hussain Shah. Sanatana was the prime minister, and Rupa had another ministerial position. They received the titles Sakara Mallik and Dhabir Khas (which indicate their positions). Anupama or Shri Ballabha, who was the father of Jiva Goswami, was also in government. They were very wealthy. They brought brahmanas from their gotra in Karnataka to Bengal, where they settled at Bhatta Vati on the Ganges. Rupa and Sanatana were also famous nyayis (logicians). Twenty or thirty pandits were always on hand in the court of their home. They were the acme of aristocratic, cultured society.
But they also had contacts with the Vaishnavas of Navadwipa. From them they learned about Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and were eager to see him when he came to Ramakeli, as described in TLC. That was in November or December of 1514. At this time, Rupa and Sanatana were between 40 and 45 years old. Anupama and Jiva also saw Lord Chaitanya there. Anupama died two years later on his way to Puri from Vrndavana.
Concerning the early Vaishnavism of Rupa and Sanatana, it is interesting to note that Sanatana Gosvami established a Madana Mohana temple at Ramakeli. Lord Chaitanya, on the pretext of going to Vrndavana, came to Ramakeli just to deliver Rupa, Sanatana and Jiva Gosvami and engage them in His mission.
Nawab Hussain Shah sent the two of them in disguise to spy on Lord Chaitanya's activities. And that's how they were converted.
After that they renounced their personal wealth, as described in TLC, though Sanatana had to stay on in his post. When they heard Lord Chaitanya was planning to go to Vrndavana from Puri, Rupa and Anupama made preparations to go, leaving Sanatana with money for emergency. Later Rupa wrote to Sanatana suggesting that he use that money to get himself free of imprisonment.
The reason for Sanatana's imprisonment was that Nawab Hussain Shah was planning to attack Orissa. When he came to Sanatana (as described in TLC), he asked him to accompany him to Orissa, but Sanatana refused, saying he wanted nothing to do with an attack on the country of Lord Jagannatha. So the Shah suspected he might run away and join the other side.
Rupa and Anupama met Lord Chaitanya at Allahabad in February of 1515. Here too he met Vallabha Bhatta (Vallabhacharya). Lord Chaitanya sent Rupa and Anupama to Vrndavana, and He traveled to Varanasi, down the Ganges. There he met Sanatana.
After receiving Lord Chaitanya’s instructions, Sanatana went to Vrndavana; at the same time, Rupa and Anupama started for Puri to attend Rathayatra. Their plan was to join the Vaishnavas from Bengal, but Anupama died on the way and this diverted Rupa. He arrived in Puri alone in June of 1516, just before the start of Rathayatra. Lord Chaitanya arranged his stay with Haridasa Thakur. Every day Lord Chaitanya would visit them. Lord Chaitanya also requested Svarupa Damodara to instruct Rupa on the science of Rasa. At this time Rupa wrote two dramas - Lalita Madhava and Vidagdha Madhava, which he composed in his mind on his way to Puri.
The verse that expressed the secret of Lord Chaitanya’s mood was also written at this time. Rupa Gosvami wrote this after seeing Mahaprabhu's ecstasy in Rathayatra; besides him, only Svarupa Damodara knew this secret. This poem expresses Radharani's yearning to be with Krishna at the place of Their first meeting, where They fell in love.
Lord Chaitanya was so pleased with Rupa Gosvami's writings that he brought Ramananda Raya, Svarupa Damodara, Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya and others to hear his two plays. Ramananda Raya blessed Rupa's work as being most excellent; Ramananda himself was an expert in drama.
After nearly a year of training, Rupa Gosvami was sent to Vrndavana from Puri in March-April of 1517.
Meanwhile, Sanatana Gosvami had been performing great austerities on Vrndavana Parikrama. He'd obtained a copy of the Mathura Mahatmya (there are several of these - Narada, Skanda, Varaha Puranas). With this he rediscovered many lost holy places, as Lord Chaitanya had ordered. Then he went to Puri, returning just ten days after Rupa had left for Vrndavana. On this trip he got the weeping sores that later made him want to give up his body as being too vile for Lord Chaitanya to touch. He was most humble. Lord Chaitanya told him that Krishna was not attainable merely by death, but by bhakti.
Sanatana stayed at Puri for one year before returning to Vrndavana.
(Note: Sanatana took diksha from Madhusudana Vacaspati, and Rupa took from Sanatana)
In Vrndavana the two brothers lived and practised austerities together. As we know, they slept not more than two hours a night, sometimes less. The rest of the time was spent in devotional activities. Their main mission was writing and restoration. They slept under trees, or in caves. They begged door to door for their food. Their waterpot was a coconut shell. They dressed in the babaji clothing of cast-off cloth.
Lokanatha and Bhugarbha Gosvamis were already there when they arrived in Vrndavana. Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami came next, sent by Lord Chaitanya. Then Gopala Bhatta Gosvami came from the south; Lord Chaitanya instructed Rupa and Sanatana to take him in as their third brother. Nityananda sent Jiva Gosvami from Bengal. Then Krishnadasa Kaviraja came. Lord Chaitanya sent Jagadananda (incident with red cloth) to serve Sanatana.
Rupa and Sanatana Gosvamis founded a society called the Vishva Vaishnava Raja Sabha, the Royal Council of Vaishnavas. This is mentioned by Shrila Jiva Gosvami in the Sat-Sandarbhas. This society was revived by Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.
Regarding their work in Vrndavana, when they were at last together, the first thing they did was arrange for the building of Vrnda Devi, which was at Seva Kunja. Then, near Brahma-kunda, the Govindaji temple was established, the Deity having been discovered in Nandagram. This temple was built up later on by a disciple of Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami. Then the Madana-mohana temple, near Kaliadaha Ghat. This was built by Sanatana Gosvami’s disciple Ramadasa. And, of course, they wrote many volumes of Krishna conscious literature, of which Hari Bhakti Vilasa (by Sanatana) and Nectar of Devotion (by Rupa) are very important.
Ramananda Raya was the son of Bhavananda Raya. He had four brothers: Gopinath, Kalanidhi, Sudhanidhi and Vaninatha. They were all great devotees of Lord Chaitanya. Lord Chaitanya accepted Bhavananada Raya as Pandu, his wife as Kunti, and his sons as the five Pandavas. Ramananda was the oldest son.
Ramananda is said to have been, next to Lord Chaitanya Himself, the foremost authority on the science of Rasa Tattva. He was the viceroy of the southern Orissan empire, and had to defend that quarter against attacks from the Muslims of Hyderabad as well as the kings of Vijayanagara. Historians note that when he left to join Lord Chaitanya, within one year the southern provinces of Orissa were overrun by Krishnadeva Raya, another Vaishnava king, (Tenali Rama was his minister), from Vijayanagara.
He was a great authority on drama, poetry, music, and dance, and used these media to invoke the sentiments of madhurya-rasa. He was a perfect gentleman in every way, said to have embodied all that was excellent in the Orissan culture. It is said that the culture of Gaudiya Vaishnavism is a blend of the best of Orissan Vaishnava culture given by Ramananda Raya and Bengali Vaishnava culture given by Rupa and Sanatana Goswamis. Of course, this is a rather mundane formulation, as Ramananda, Rupa and Sanatana had nothing to do with mundane designations. But they extracted the best from the cultures they appeared in and used them in the service of Lord Chaitanya.
(VASUDEVA) SARVABHAUMA BHATTACHARYA
He was the eldest son of Maheshwara Visharada of Vidyanagara, a village near Navadwipa. His father was a fellow student of Nilambara Chakravarti, father of Shrimati Sacidevi. His younger brother was Madhusudana Vachaspati. His brother-in-law was Gopinatha Acharya, a great devotee who introduced him to Lord Chaitanya.
Sarvabhauma was the greatest Vedantist in Eastern India. He introduced the atheistic philosophical system called Navanyaya to Bengal. He learned it from Paksha dhara Mishra at Mithila. He memorised his master's writings, which could not be removed from Mithila. His disciple in pre-Vaishnava days was Raghunatha Shiromani, who became the greatest exponent of the Navanyaya system. He wrote four famous works on nyaya and a commentary on a famous Mayavadi work called Advaita Makaranda. He met Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in March-April of the year 1510. After his conversion he composed the Chaitanya-shata-shloka. He is credited for having made Maharaja Prataparudra into a pure devotee of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He also requested Lord Chaitanya to meet Shri Ramananda Raya in the southern Orissan provinces.
FURTHER INFORMATION ON THE 4 VAISHNAVA SAMPRADAYAS
Vishnuswami: only the Tattva Pradipa is extant; his Vedanta commentary, called Sarvajnasukta, is lost in time.
He was a devotee of Lord Nrsimhadeva, and he is mentioned by a scientist named Sayana Madhava as having taught that Lord Nrsimhadeva's body is sac-cid-ananda. This was around 1300 A.D.
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, according to Sambidananda dasa, his initiated disciple in a dissertation, gives the information that there were three Vishnu swamis. There was the Adi Vishnu swami, born about 300 B.C. in South India, in the territory of the Pandya kings. He was called Devatanu, son of Devesvara, the prime minister. Devesvara was a Vaishnava and taught his son to oppose Buddhism and other non-Vaishnava cults. King Pandovijaya went with Devasvara to Puri to capture the Jagan- natha temple from the Buddhists, who had changed the worship of Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra into the Buddhist deities Dharma, Buddha and Samgha. He is said to have revived the Rathayatra festival, which had been stopped for a long time due to Buddhist influence. Even now the Ratha ceremony is called Pahandi or Panduvijaya, and the priests are called Panda.
Adi Vishnu swami was a tridandi sannyasi and had 700 sannyasi disciples. He introduced 108 names of sannyasa, from which Sankara took ten. Then, about 1200 years later (A.D. 800-900), the Shuddhadvaita doctrine was revived by Raja Gopala, the second Vishnu Swami. He converted many Mayavadis into Vaishnavas, and likewise was a great devotee of Lord Nrsimhadeva. The Shaivaite sect of Shiva Swami was a splinter group from this period of the Rudra Sampradaya. The Vaishnavas held that Rudra is guru and the devotee of Lord Nrsimha. The Shaivaites held that Rudra is God. The Shaiva philosophy is similar to Suddhadvaita, but they put up Shiva as the supreme Godhead.
Then, in the 1300's, Andhra Vishnu Swami revived Vaishnava Suddhadvaita again. Vallabhacharya comes in his disciplic succession.